We just got back this morning from our Alaskan cruise on the Dawn Princess. Our ports included Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway. If you have any questions about any of these ports (or any other questions) I would be more than happy to answer them for you. Eventually I'll post my pictures. The scenery is absolutely spectacular!!!!
My husband & I will be going to Alaska on the Sea Princess in August our first cruise. We will be stopping at the same ports you did. If there is a must not miss please let us know. We both like to fish did you do any fishing? Was the pools on the ship open or was it to cool ? How was the food & also did you enjoy your formal nights ? Well I could go on an on but I am just sooooo excited I just can not wait for this trip. Thanks for all you help. TrudyAndrew Hicks wrote:
> We just got back this morning from our Alaskan cruise on the
> Dawn Princess. Our ports included Ketchikan, Juneau, and
> Skagway. If you have any questions about any of these ports
> (or any other questions) I would be more than happy to answer
> them for you. Eventually I'll post my pictures. The scenery
> is absolutely spectacular!!!!
We are going on an Alaskan Cruise Next week. Maybe you can help me out with......
1) Ketchikan - Instead of paying for the $ 240 float plane/boat trip which is supposed to be nice we were thinking about first walking around Ketchikan and then renting a car to drive around some and go to one or two hiking sites to see it that way. This will probably cost us $ 100 total (6 people) versus $ 1300 for us to do a tourist trip.
2) Juneau - We were thinking that the best things to do there sound like a) walking around town b) Gondola up the mountain c) city bus out to see Mendenhall. They stay in Juneau all day so we think all 3 can be done pretty easy. Any thoughts or other ideas ?
3) Skagway - The train ride sounds like a must. But should we take the train ride both ways or one way and connect up with a tourist bus which goes to a gold-mine town too ?
Echoing the other sentiments here, I would be VERY interested in what you consider the "don't miss this"s and any other review you can provide of the other excursions based on your own experience or the experiences passengers you talked to. Also, did you see much wildlife (non-human :-) and where?
I don't recommend the Misty Fjords floatplane cruise combo. too time consuming and same scenery only slower. I have driven several times in Ketchikan but unless you want to do some hiking it really is not worthwhile. Going to Saxman with out a tour is useless as you need a tour to tell you what you are seeing. The city is very easy walking - just pick up a map at the visitor center. a much better port for driving is Juneau or Skagway. for car rentals- in Ketchikan Alaska Car rental and Juneau either All Star or Rent a wreck.
I am happy to answer your questions and give you my suggestions. To give you a little background, this was our 3rd cruise (1 with Royal Caribbean (Western Caribbean, 1 with Celebrity (Southern Caribbean) and our most recent aboard the Dawn Princess in Alaska. My wife and I are in our mid 20's and enjoy being active in the ports of call.
First, in regards to the weather, it's hard for me to comment on that. We were absolutely blessed with incredible weather. If you don't know, in Alaska they measure the rainfall in feet. Out of 8 days, we had rain once and sunny blue skies the rest. It was definitely chilly though (about 55-60 all week). As many of the reviews suggest, I would definitely agree on bringing clothes you can layer. On your days in College Fjord, Glacier Bay, and at sea, you will definitely want a hat that covers your ears, gloves, poncho, scarf, etc. because the breeze can be cold. We tried to do a little whale watching from the front of the ship but found it to be too cold most of the time.
Who did you book your tour through? We did the same thing with Island Wings Air. Our price was $159 pp for 2 hours of flying time. We made 1 landing in Punchbowl Lake. This tour was absolutely breathtaking and the commentary while flying was really good. This was our first stop and I didn't think anything else would compare. Bring your camera and lots of film.
If you have time, rent a cab to take you to Saxman City. There are lots of totem poles there. Inside the barn you can actually see them working on the totem poles. They also give you the history of the poles. The cab is about $10 each way.
Take a walk down creek street as well. There are lots of neat little shops. We were able to see a couple seals playing in the creek too.
We met some friends that did the wildlife tour. They saw numerous seals, eagles, and 3 whales. They said the whales jumped out of the water right in front of them. We chose to rent a car here. I highly suggest this because we were able to see so much more than any
one tour. Our rental car was about $65 and we rented from All-Star Rental. I would highly suggest going to Mendenhall Glacier. It is absolutely amazing especially if you've never seen a glacier before. Also, the walk to the glacier (about 1 1/2 miles) is definitely worth it. There is a huge waterfall there as well. Also, I would suggest going to the St. Therese Church. The church and the scenery around it are extremely pretty. Lastly, and probably the most breathtaking was the tram ride to the top of Mt. Roberts. If you're in good shape the hike at the top of the mountain is a must. It takes about a half an hour to hike to the top of the mountain from the tram and the views are incredible. Be prepared though, the trails are rough and sometimes scary. There was about 4 feet of snow when we were there 1 week ago. The tram ride is $20 pp round trip.
Instead of doing the train ride, we chose to rent a car here as well. The Klondike Highway runs parallel with the train. We rented a car from Avis for about $70. We are glad we did because we were able to stop along the way to take some excellent pictures. People who did the train ride complained because they couldn't stop and they said the ride down was long and boring. If you rent a car, drive to Emerald Lake. This lake looks like something fresh out of the South Pacific. It's about 75 miles to get to the lake and it's about 10 miles past the city of Carcross. Also, if you get a chance, go to the cemetery were Soapy Smith is burried. Listen in on one of the tour groups because the stories are interesting. In the back of the cemetery is a path up to Reid's Falls. It's about a 10 minute hike and the falls are really pretty.
As far as the train ride from Seward to Anchorage, I would highly recommend it. The scenery is absolutely beautiful. The first hour is kind of boring, but once your in the mountains, it's spectacular. Plus the train gives you the freedom to walk around. We were able to see a moose, bear, and lots of mountain goats from the train. Be prepared, by choosing the train, you will be the first group of people off the ship in the morning. We had to be off the ship by 6:30 AM.
Overall, the scenery is absolutely spectacular. I can't emphasize how much we were constantly in awe. Strike up a conversation with the locals. They are extremely friendly and they can share the history of the area. You will probably see a lot more wildlife than we did. It was still pretty early in the year. The bears were just waking up when we got there. We ended up seeing the following: 2 whales, 1 deer, 1 moose, lots of mountain goats, eagles, seals, and beavers.
If you want any additional information, I would be more than happy to talk over the phone or you can just email me. Just let me know.
The food was very good. I should say it was excellent because I gained about 5-10 pounds. The pools were always open and about 80 degrees. The outside temp is chilly so very few people were swimming. We got in the hot tub a couple of times but made a quick run for our towels after we got out. We didn't do any fishing but we definitely ate a lot of it! I think Alaska is a little less formal than the Caribbean. We didn't see a lot of tuxes. Most men wore suits or just a coat and tie. Hope this and my other post helps. Let me know if you have more questions.
We booked the train portion through our travel agent. I believe it was an extra $35 pp. I think it was definitely worth it. The train ride takes about 4 1/2 hours. Ours departed at 7 AM and arrived in Anchorage before noon.
Thanks very much for the train info, I thought I'd ask you more questions over this board, so others might get answers. We are booked through Princess to take the afternoon run from Anchorage to Seward.
Did you see any info on when the train leaves the station from Anchorage? Were meals or beverages included? Any approximates on food/beverage costs?
Sorry, I didn't notice any train schedules. You may be able to get some information of their web site (if they have one). The train is called Grand View. As far as food is concerned, I did peek into the food car. However, after noticing the prices I quickly returned to my seat. Muffins were around $4, cookies $2, etc. If you have the time and energy, you may just want to pack a lunch from home or stop at a fast food restaurant before boarding the train. Then again, I'm a little cheap so maybe these prices don't bother you. I think they also had small sandwiches and candy.
HI, Exciting to hear more great things about Alaska. We are going on our first cruise mid July. I have one more question for you. Did you reserve your rental cars in Juneau and Skagway ahead of time, or were you able to get a car when you got there? The car rental thing appeals to us, allowing us to see what we want to see when we want to see it. Thanks for the info.
You need to rent ahead as there will be no availablility at the dock. A necessary reference is THE MILEPOST, so you will know what you are seeing and where to go. I have driven in all Alaska ports as well as interior several times.
Ouch! Considering how much we'll be eating when we get on Dawn, I think we can cope. We'll be staying at a B&B the night before, so maybe they can suggest or provide something to tide us over :o)